Medieval zombies: how the walking dead haunted the Middle Ages

Until the Enlightenment, even the most learned agreed that the dead could rise from their graves. Darren Oldridge, the author of a book on seemingly 'strange' ideas from the past, explores the origins of the belief

Detail from The Last Judgement, a fresco in the Sistine Chapel painted by the Italian Renaissance painter Michelangelo. The scene depicts the Second Coming of Christ and the final judgement of all humanity. (Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

The corpse would not be still. It thrashed and groaned when the executioner tried to subdue it, and foam spilled from its mouth. The dead man was eventually dumped in a grave and covered with earth; but he still made “such a rumbling and tumbling in it, that the very earth was raised, and the mules were so heaved up that they could hardly keep them down”.

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